Side-stepping search engine ranking factors for a minute, remembering the human element of websites is the key to creating a website that works for 2014 and beyond. It’s important to consider the elements below when beginning an on-site refresh, as they can have a big effect on the trust levels of the visitor. Here are my 10 most hated on-site distrust factors, which can and should be banished with very little effort:
1. Stock images
You can spot these a mile off. While a headset hottie image has become a standard feature of contact form pages these days, they give me the feeling that the website in question has been designed in five minutes, using a stock library of about 10 images. Images of company employees, buildings and products will make your website appear a lot more genuine. The same applies to blurry, out-of-date images and irrelevant 1990s GIFs.
2. Out-dated information
If your About Us page makes a reference to winning the 2003 Great Yorkshire Show award for Best Cheese, or your footer bar says ©1997-2005, it might seem like you haven’t updated your website for quite a while! Make sure you refresh your static pages once a year to check all the information is up-to-date and on brand.
3. Irregular blog posts
Once a month is better than 8 times in 2 months, which is better than nothing for 9 months. Posting regular, relevant updates tells the visitor that your website is up-to-date and checked regularly. It enables you to go above and beyond talking about the products or services you offer. It’s also a great place to add extra content and keep regular clients up to date on company issues. It can also demonstrate expertise and, most importantly, personality (remember this Archers blog post?) Blog posts are also a great place to provide useful links and resources for your readers.
4. Published by ‘Admin’
Put a name to your blog posts, create a by-line with an image and proper author bio. Even if you can’t think of anything professional to write, a personalised bio will communicate that the writer is a real person and not just any old employee.
5. Crazy linking
Such as mega anchor text footer links or broken links. This makes a site seem unloved and out of date.
6. A generic 404 page
Have a little personality! Make sure your 404 page is helpful and friendly and takes a user back to somewhere appropriate. Don’t abandon your users in a jargon filled page.
7. No physical address or off-line contact method
This rings alarms bells for many people; they won’t trust you when they don’t know who they’re dealing with. Ensure you include a physical address, embed a map or even add an image of your premises.
8. Messages vanishing into thin-air
Make sure you have a contact confirmation page. You don’t want potential clients wondering if their message has disappeared into thin air. If you’ve got an old contact form installed on your site, it’s probably worth updating to one of the newer versions that have greater functionality and customisation to make the form applicable to your business. Having a standard form template can make your website seem generic and irrelevant to your customers.
9. No ‘About us’ page
This makes me think a company has something to hide. Write a little bit about your company, organisation or aim, how long it’s been going and encourage users to contact you. Be welcoming and friendly.
10. Other big warning signs
- Lorum Ipsum (or Bacon Ipsum for that matter)
- Broken social media widgets!! (these make me sad)
- Links to Social Media profiles you don’t maintain! Last tweet November 2012? Don’t link to it!
- Embeds that don’t work (YouTube vids, maps, etc.)
So that’s my 10 most hated on-site elements. If you think there’s something missing from my list, or completely disagree with me about any of these, comment below or tweet me @alex_cestrian.
Main image courtesy of Jamie McCaffrey